Comments by Alannah McTiernan (Royalties pot to fund Budget fix, News, September 2-3) give us the strongest indication yet that Thursday’s budget will see us returning to the dark old days where regional WA was an afterthought.
Royalties for Regions was introduced by the Nationals in 2008 as a strategy to address the long standing service and infrastructure deficit in regional WA. And what’s more, it didn’t happen without the leverage that comes from holding the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly. A position hard won by the bush.
Royalties for Regions is a fund designed to drive regional development – it wasn’t designed to pay for recurrent programs that should be normal government expenditure.
Going into this year’s State election, WA Labor committed to Royalties for Regions. I have no doubt their strong vote in regional WA in the election was on the back of this commitment.
No matter how they seek to window-dress it, any move to use Royalties for Regions to fund “recurrent spending on some services in regional WA” as suggested in The Weekend West is a Labor promise BROKEN.
History shows consistently that when the Budget pressures come, the first place to cop a hit is the regions. Labor clearly sees regional communities as a soft target, and this is only their first budget.
The writing is on the wall for Royalties for Regions, and by Budget four, that hard won legacy may be nothing more than a distant memory.
Hon Terry Redman MLA – Member for Warren Blackwood